10 Things I Learned From Vending at My First Festival.

purple festival tent

I can say now that I am no longer a festival virgin.  I was initiated in a big way this past weekend and am still recovering from it.  Here is a list of things I wish I had known beforehand.

  1.  Make sure you have a reliable, dependable back up team.  I didn’t and was miserable.  Be very clear in communicating expectations and needs.
  2. Getting to your site can be an irritating problem.  I had to deal with equipment and trucks blocking the way and roads closed that were said to be open.
  3. Rethink your footwear.  I thought my faithful old hiking sandals would provide enough support.  Nope.  I was barefoot most of the day as a result.  Your feet may swell, especially if you are outdoors in the heat standing up for most of the day.
  4. If you need electricity be prepared for extra charges and the need to cover up your drop cords due to state law.  I am going to look for battery or solar-powered fans for  the next outdoor event.
  5. Don’t post your prices in a proominant place.  Even though mine were consistent with those of other vendors for the same thing people would stop, read my sign, and walk away not bothering to look at what I offered.
  6. Take a mini first aid kit. Include headache and stomach remedies.
  7. Carabiners work better than zip ties for some things.  You will need a hand truck or cart on wheels.
  8. Other handy items include extra tarps, trash bags, paper towels, hand sanitizer, bug spray, and sunscreen,  clothes pins, painter’s tape,and a box cutter.  A portable cell phone charger pack is a requirement.
  9. Sports drinks and electrolyte placement if outdoors in the heat is extremely important.  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  Don’t skimp on salt.  Bring your own cooler full.
  10. Make sure your online presence is up to date before the festival.  I had been sloppy about maintaining my social media sites.  People would take my card and go home and look me up.

 

Overall, my first festival was a positive experience.  I didn’t make a lot of money, just enough to cover my entrance fee, but the lessons learned were priceless.  I was in tears often over the kindness of strangers and the camaraderie among vendors.  I made some great connections, met wonderful people I want to stay in contact with, and  have begun to refine my craft techniques as well as what I will be offering in the future.

 

Planning and Sorting

We have been quiet, but busy.  Today was for planning and sorting.  We have more dying to do in the next few weeks to get ready for our very first festival.

Here is a sneak peek at what we will have to offer at the Historic Morganton Festival in Morganton, NC on September 7 and 8.  Look for us on the courthouse lawn.

Teal and Black Shirt

Dani

I thought ya’ll might like to see one of my shirts on a real person.  It’s nice to have friends who are willing to model for me.

 

 

Wild Spirals

wild spirals

Health problems and weather have finally given way and I have been able to get back into the garage and start experimenting again.  These are “warm-up” shirts, exercises in color mixing to get back into the groove.  Plans, oh, do I have big plans now!  The challenge will be to get the images into my head translated into fabric.  I have started to  name my custom colors mixes after friends who have made particular requests.  In the mix up there you will find Zim’s Purple and Tom’s Yellow.  Let’s just hope my notebook survives the splattering.  I still have Technicolor hands.

These are what is left of the last batch of 6.  I am flattered that friends grabbed the others before I could photograph them.  The one on the far left with the big red spiral is already spoke for but the other two are available for adoption.

Middle shirt, purple and green, Fruit of the Loom me’s size large crewneck.  $25 includes shipping and taxes.

Right shirt, dropped spiral, FOTL men’s V-neck size 2x (I think it would be fun as a woman’s sleep shirt) $30 includes shipping and taxes.

PayPal only.  freakflagdyeco@gmail.com

Fly your flag, peeps!  Full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes!  Much love to all of you.

 

Spring!!!

kite

We are finally having beautiful weather here.  It comes in spasms, but there are more gorgeous days than wet and cold.  Over the weekend friends and I wrangled assorted kids,went on a picnic,and decided to teach the kids to fly kites. I sent someone into a store to buy them for the crowd and this is the one they chose for me.  I hung it in the studio both for inspiration and as a memento of a wonderful day with friends who love me.  It may not stay there long, however, as everyone had a blast and I am sure we will be doing it again.

Can’t Escape The Irony

handsandshirt

 

Here I sit in the wee hours of the morning with my cup of faux coffee and buttered toast wrestling with the demons I am sure every “artiste” and creative type  encounters in their careers.

I am a fledgling entrepreneur who is close to deleting my Facebook and Instagram accounts.  Why?  Because I am overwhelmed with advertisements and self-promotion.  The “likes” and “follows” I receive on my accounts don’t seem to be because the people behind them are interested in dialogue but because they want to sell me something or garner “likes” for their own pages.

Sure, I want to sell my stuff, too.  But I don’t want to shove it in someone’s face every time they sign online.  I want to “like” and “follow” other accounts because we have something in common and can communicate about what we do, not because accumulating signs of approval boosts my ego.

I need to sell my creations. I need to create a market for what I do.  But I don’t want to be cynical and manipulative while doing it.  I like fiber and color and pattern so here I am slinging dye around, making tie-dye clothing in a world dominated by dark colors and ironic slogans.  On-line marketing, SEO, hashtags, etc. are a foreign language to me.  The learning curve is steep.

The world seems to be running on algorithms these days.  They are everywhere.  Not only in marketing and sales, but in all the service professions.  No one seems to know how to connect with others in an open, genuine manner any more.  The pressure to do more with less to keep the greedy stockholders happy has reduced the amount of time people have to be more than meat robots.  You want to offend me?  Treat me like just another step in your memorized algorithm.  I will get cranky and obnoxious in a heartbeat and do my damnedest to jerk you out of your robotic responses.  Who would you like me to manifest?  Robin Williams, George Carlin, Andy Griffin, or the evil witch of the West with the flying monkeys?  and I easily recognize jargon.

I am working with an online group that is helping me formulate a business plan.  The questionnaire I am required to fill out is intimidating.  What is my mission statement? Hell, I don’t know.  I make for the joy of making and hope people like what I do.  I want people who use my products to enjoy them, have fun, and feel loved.  Is that enough of a mission statement?  I am not out to save the world. Chip away at some of the gloom, maybe, but not lead a revolution.

And what percentage do I expect my business to grow in the next year? I don’t know that either. I will worry about it when it happens.  Right now I am concerned about materials and supplies to create enough product to sell and finding people to buy it. But I don’t want to get so big that the hand-produced aspect of the business is lost.  And people I have approached to sell to can get cheap rip-offs made in China for much less and toss them away after a few months instead of using them until they wear out.  The shirt I am wearing in the pic at the top of this article is my very first one ever, the one that started me on my journey, and it is now 8 years old.  The one I am wearing in my profile pic is one of my experiments from the past year and is the representative of the direction I want to go with my shirts.

I don’t know how to answer these questions in the same “corporate business speak” language the originators use.  I am afraid to distill my work into spreadsheets and financial projections because that will take the joy out of it, but reality raises it’s ugly head.  It is part of the not so fun side of running a business.  I am already very broke and trying to do this, if I don’t control cash flow I will just be more broke.

I find myself up against the Wal-Martization of the culture and the pitch to the lowest common denominator; the sad complaint of creative types for centuries.  These days hand-made objects are luxuries and the provenance of people who have the time and money to indulge themselves.  Skills that were once a part of daily life are now dominated by privileged white people, usually retired, and the competition among them is fierce. I have rarely seen locals or POC at Master Gardener events or fiber conventions.  In the town where I live the social and economic problems are such that survival is the focus and anything beyond that is viewed with suspicion, so I don’t sell locally.  Not yet, anyway; though I am not discounting the possibility.  When I first started I couldn’t give away my work here.  I hope that as the town grows and groovies up a market for my kind of thing may develop here. There are new bars and entertainment venues popping up downtown as people migrate here to escape higher costs in the big town on the hill west of us.

I don’t mean to sound bitter and angry,  I am more puzzled and groping my way in the dark.  So much of this blog has become a place for personal venting instead of for my business that I am considering starting a separate one for kvetching and keeping this one strictly for sales and marketing.  Any and all advice or comments are welcome.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

Facebook Vacation

Hi, all!  This is just a quickie to let you know that I am taking a vacation from Facebook but will still be posting on WordPress.  Please stay in touch.

The studio is almost up and running.  The sinks are installed and I have some nice restaurant mats to stand on and a kerosene heater to warm up the space. I am slowly plugging away on a business plan and all the paperwork stuff that makes being an official business such a pain before I can start begging people to give me money to work with via grants.  First I have to convince them that there is more to me than retro, crazy hippie, tie-dye stuff.  I eventually want to branch out into hand-dyeing knitting yarn, too.  I have pages of notes concerning my “creative visions” and am closer to becoming able to make them real.  Thanks for all of your support and encouragement as I grind it out.

So far the most difficult part, besides all the numbers stuff (how in the heck do I know how much my business is going to expand next year???? I am just starting out!),is coming up with a mission statement.  Does making unique, comfortable, fun clothing for all shapes and sizes sound too ambitious?  I am not exactly sure what the guys in the suits want to hear.  If anyone has ideas, please toss them my way.

In the meantime, beloveds, keep flying your flags!!